For those of you who read my first guest blog post, “3 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Day”, and have now mastered your schedules, email accounts and got rid of those interruptions, I thought it was time to share a few more productivity tips with everyone. For those of you who are interested in whether I’m actually putting my money where my mouth is on all of the activities I listed in my previous post, check out my blog. I just finished my third 100-mile race and it’s been a productive year to say the least. I love to hear feedback and discussion of what works, what doesn’t and ways people have push even further into the productivity universe. Leave comments below, email or even tweet at me, @JHanlon31.
1. Read 25% faster instantly!
First, let’s understand how reading works. You read by having your eyes jump from one set of words to another, meaning you take snap shots of a group of words, then another, then another, and so forth. One inefficient part of this process is that you tend to re-read a lot. The easiest way to avoid re-reading what you already read is to simply use a book mark to cover the lines you already read.
Go ahead try it out, time yourself for one minute. I read, in an average book, about 21 lines a minute (I know, not that fast.) Now use a book marker to cover what you’re already read and see how many lines you can read in a minute. I averaged about 28 lines, a 25% increase instantly, and without really changing anything. Now, be careful not to just blaze through a book, often with increased reading speed you can decrease your rate of retention.
Evernote is a fantastic program that allows you to keep track of and organize just about anything you are doing. I use it all of the time for blog post ideas, reading notes and simply keeping track of all of the information that the average person goes through on a daily basis. I use the free version and it’s great. It’s a program you can download to any computer, smart phone or tablet and they will all sync together, allowing you access to your notes from any device.
For example when I’m speed reading through another book and I want to remember or highlight a piece of information I pull up Evernote on my phone and I can either type a note, take a picture/video or leave an audio note. Later I can go on my laptop and edit that note and make changes or reference it. Evernote also lets you clip text, video, pictures, scan in old handwritten notes and whole websites to import into a particular note. You download it to your web browser and there will be a button that will allow you to clip anything from the web. This has helped me reduce my use of taking screen shots, too many bookmarks and 10+ browser tabs open at the same time. This is the ultimate program for taking and organizing information. Students, blogger, writers and anyone that is sick of a cluttered desk of post-its and scratch paper, this is definitely for you. Not to mention that it is searchable so no more hunting for the napkin with the million-dollar idea on it.
3. Optimize your Meetings
The best way to optimize your meeting in my opinion is to cancel the meeting. Yes, that’s right, click the decline button on the meeting request. Now I know this could hurt people’s feelings and you may not want to do this if you boss requests the meeting. But trust me almost all productive work that goes on in meetings can be accomplished WITHOUT the meeting.
If you have to have the meeting, then have a clear agenda that outlines what you will be talking about, any requirements work or information needed for the meeting, and outline any decisions that need to be made. Then make sure to stay on task with the agenda, especially avoid spending time on topics or issues that do not pertain to what you are trying to accomplish. For any side topics have the meeting organizer make a note of the issue to discuss it at the appropriate time. There is nothing worse than two people discussing something that does not pertain to the rest of the group; it is a waste of time for everyone else. Finally, once the meeting is done have the organizer or person taking notes summarize the meeting and clearly outline what was decided and what actions each person will be taking and a timeline for each. If you get done with a meeting and you cannot clearly do this, you probably didn’t need the meeting in the first place.
Companies are starting to see the value of not meeting. I have a friend that works at Boston Scientific, who has incorporated a “No Meeting” Fridays policy. He loves it because it allows him to focus on his projects and work without further interruptions.
Here are some good excuses for turning down meeting requests:
- “Sorry I can’t make the meeting, I have a conflicting appointment. I will get the meeting notes from a colleague and let you know if I have any questions. I appreciate your understanding.”
- “I really need to get project XXXX finished up, is it possible to just sit out on this one? I’ll talk to John Q. Coworker about the meeting as soon as I’m finished. Thanks, this is a real help.”
You get the idea. Now the next time you’re in a meeting make sure you are getting the most out of it.
The way I approach productivity and almost anything is by viewing it as a process. Whether it’s work, running, blogging or even human interaction, once you know the process you can make changes and find what works and what doesn’t. Productivity is all about fine-tuning life’s processes, so you can have time to enjoy the ones that matter.
These are just a few of the changes you can make to squeeze more productivity out of your day. In The Evolving Role of Exhibit Marketers white paper you and your peers told us how you’re adapting to the reality of today’s demanding work environment. To read more, click here and request your free copy.